If you think slow cooker Indian butter chicken with all the rich, creamy, comforting goodness of the authentic real deal and the convenience of the slow cooker is too good to be true, think again. Heck, there’s even peas in the recipe, so you don’t even have to make a separate side dish.Angie Zoobkoff

A white serving platter filled with slow cooker Indian butter chicken on a bed of basmati rice, topped with almonds and coconut

A white serving platter filled with slow cooker Indian butter chicken on a bed of basmati rice, topped with almonds and coconut

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

5 / 2 votes
This butter chicken, which is made in the slow cooker with boneless chicken, coconut milk, spices, tomato paste, and peas, is easy and comforting.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories431 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time5 hours
Total Time5 hours 25 minutes


  • 6-quart slow cooker


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks
  • 1 medium (7 oz) onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • One (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • One (6-ounce) jar tomato paste
  • One (13 1/2-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet peas (thawed if frozen or blanched if fresh)

To serve (optional)


  • In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Stir to evenly coat the chicken. Add the butter, tomato paste, and coconut milk and stir again.
  • Cover and cook on low until the chicken pulls apart easily with a fork, 4 to 5 hours.
  • Before serving, stir in the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and peas, cover, and continue to cook until everything is warmed through. Serve the butter chicken with rice and, if desired, top with cilantro, toasted coconut, and toasted slivered almonds.
Feeding a Family Cookbook

Adapted From

Feeding a Family

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 431 kcalCarbohydrates: 12 gProtein: 53 gFat: 18 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 178 mgSodium: 1146 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 4 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Sarah Waldman. Photo © 2018 Elizabeth Cecil. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I will definitely make this again. I used chicken thighs as I prefer thighs over breasts, particularly for slow cooker recipes as I feel like breast meat can get stringy. I used cilantro. There were no leftovers to try as naan bread roll-ups the next day. Didn’t have any naan bread left, anyway!

My husband said that this is the best recipe we’ve made from Leite’s yet! He enjoyed the tenderness of the chicken, the spice, and the creaminess of the dish.

This was a fairly hands off recipe, taking about 20 minutes of actual work time. This is also the first recipe I’ve ever made using a slow cooker. I used chicken breasts for this recipe as my taster doesn’t like dark meat.

The chicken was tender and pulled broke apart easily with a wooden spoon at about 5 hours. As it wasn’t dinner time yet I just turned the cooker off and let it sit before adding the peas and reheating.

I used a spicy Madras curry powder. According to my husband, the finished dish had just the right amount of spice.

This is a winner of a slow cooker dinner! After we’d finished eating and were cleaning up, I went back and ate another partial (I was restrained) plateful. This is not something I usually do, but this was an unusually good slow cooker meal.

The chopping and measuring take a fair amount of time upfront but are worth it at the end of the day. While flavors can wash out over the long stretch of time a slow cooker takes, the late addition of the lemon, yogurt, and peas ensured this meal stayed bright. The curry held up strong throughout and contributed to a more complex blend of flavors than I typically expect from a slow cooker.

I used garnishes of cilantro, coconut, and lightly toasted cashews and served whole wheat naan alongside.

This recipe was one of the easiest slow cooker recipes to put together and it smelled amazing all day. I have made butter chicken myself many times so I did find this to be more on the mild side, but if you’re a busy person or have kids so you don’t want it to be too spicy, this is the perfect weeknight meal.

I served this dish with garlic naan, basmati rice, and topped it with cilantro. I felt as though it was lacking a bit of depth in flavor. The dish smelled amazing and complex like Indian dishes. I would recommend maybe adding a few more spices as it did have a strong cinnamon taste to it. The reason why I’m saying it’s a TC despite my negative comments is because it is a good dish if you’re just starting out trying to cook Indian food or if you have kids or you’re just a really busy person as this was really easy to make (not much prep) and it would be a great weeknight meal.

Butter Chicken is one of our favorite dishes to order when we go out for Indian food. A slightly creamy, tomato-based sauce filled with tender chicken and flavored with warm spices, this slow cooker, homemade version was honestly just as tasty as a restaurant version!

The great thing is, it is so hands-off, you pop everything into the trusty slow cooker and a few hours later, dinner is served. I served our butter chicken with toasted coconut (unsweetened), toasted sliced almonds and chopped cilantro. The added crunch on the top was lovely!

What a delicious, easy, healthy meal that my young kids and I truly enjoyed! I adore “set it and forget it” style slow cooker recipes and this fits the bill.

I love the color and pop that the sweet peas give this dish and the addition of lemon that adds a nice zing.

Do not skimp on the cilantro as it adds much needed freshness to this slow cooker dish! If you want truly shreddable chicken, opt for the thighs. I used chicken breast and was still able to shred the chicken but it was not easy.

If you opt for chicken breasts do not cook as long as the recipe indicates. I cooked it on the high setting for 2 hours and that was plenty. If setting the cooker on the slow setting, I would suggest approximately 4 hours if using breasts.

Try the saucy leftovers over cauliflower. I think potatoes would be excellent with leftovers as well.

This recipe had all the makings of a good Indian dish (at least, the mainstream ones available at a local Indian restaurant in the US). The sauce was thick and flavorful and not so thin that it just drained through the rice. The chicken fell apart easily, but was plentiful enough that I didn’t have to go searching for it with the serving spoon. Even using chicken breast, the meat pieces were moist from the creamy coconut milk. The flavor of the sauce was satisfying, though I think just an extra little salt would have helped make it more succulent, especially since serving over rice will dilute the flavor.

My curry powder was not especially spicy either, so I would add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne as well to warm it up. In the end, anything that my boyfriend–a Midwest-bred, meat-and-potatoes kind of guy–gives two thumbs up is a recipe I tend to hold onto.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this fabulous recipe! So easy and so good. My grocery store only had low fat coconut milk so I used sour cream instead, which worked great. I also used frozen edamame beans instead of peas. No way I could stretch this to 6 servings—the two of us had to restrain ourselves to leave left-overs for tomorrow (it was really that good)!

  2. We made this last night. We used whole thighs with skin on and bone in (for flavor and fat—we’re on a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet). The recipe is really good; I especially liked the blend of spices. It’s a keeper.

    We served it with a new product we found yesterday while shopping for this recipe – RightRice Made From Vegetables; the ‘rice’ maintained its body and was tasty – a welcome addition to our diet.

    1. Terrific to hear this, Sheila! I eat similarly and I know it can be a challenge. Thrilled you found this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I admit it, I have an addiction problem. To butter chicken. I have it at least twice a month, usually from my favorite Indian restaurant. I’ve tried making it at home but could never get the seasoning just right. Until now. This butter chicken is the bomb. And the fact that it is so darn easy to put together means no more trips to the Indian restaurant. I used my Instant Pot slow cooker function and the chicken was perfect at the 4 hour mark. Don’t like peas? Leave them out, the chicken and sauce are lip smacking good on their own. And don’t expect leftovers as you will be going back for seconds. And thirds.

    1. Beth, we’re here to help. We can direct you to the nearest BCA group (Butter Chicken Anonymous) or, if you prefer, we can continue feeding your addiction. (I vote for the latter! Call me an enabler.)